10 Shocking Reasons Why Cats End Up At Shelters


While most might think house soiling (i.e. not using the litter box, spraying, etc.) would top the poll taken in 2000-that unpleasant problem actually came in at number seven.

The top three reasons on the list were:

  1. Too many pets in household
  2. Allergies
  3. Moving

Completing the list are:

  • The cost of pet maintenance
  • Landlord issues
  • No homes for littermates
  • House soiling
  • Personal problems
  • Inadequate facilities
  • Doesn’t get along with other pets

Disturbing Shelter Statistics

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that eight to 10 million animals are brought to shelters each year, but there are only 4,000 to 6,000 shelters available to take in this overwhelming number of cats and dogs. The most disturbing HSUS estimate finds that four to five million of these innocent animals are euthanized. “So many cats come to shelters,” said Karen Commings, author of numerous books, including Shelter Cats, “and the majority of them, even healthy cats, are euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them or enough homes willing to keep the cat for its entire life.”

Of course, there are also those cats who are strays-either dumped off because the owner no longer wants them or because they are feral (meaning they were born in the “wild” and have had little or no contact with humans). Many strays that are found and rescued by kindhearted souls are brought to shelters because the conditions associated with living outside convince people that staying at a shelter or having an opportunity no matter how slim the chances are to get adopted is much better than life on the streets where food may be scarce and the weather brutal.

Different Shelters for Different Times

Basically, there are now two types of shelters the no-kill shelter (where animals are not euthanized but kept until they find a suitable home). If an animal doesn’t get adopted from a no-kill shelter, the feline lives at the shelter, or in a foster home, for the remainder of its life. The other type of shelter deals with the severe overpopulation problem by euthanizing the surplus of cats and kittens. Many of these are government-funded, accepting money from federal, state and local sources while many of the no-kill shelters are non-profit organizations run solely on private and corporate donations.

Sandy Parr, president of Pet Refuge, Inc., a no-kill, non-profit animal shelter in Mishawaka, Ind., has heard practically every reason in the book during her 21 years as a shelter volunteer (and the past 18 years as president). When it comes to a person relinquishing a cat to Pet Refuge, Parr said, “It is pretty much the same reasons that we’ve been listening to for more than 20 years. Perhaps one new aspect is that more and more people aren’t home enough anymore and worry about their cat being alone.” Of course, if kitty is lonely, Parr suggests adopting a companion cat too as a feline friend.

Dealing with Over-Crowded Shelters

With the disheartening statistics staring the thousands of animal shelters in the face, sometimes the “mission” of rescuing our furry friends becomes somewhat overwhelming and almost impossible. Parr said that knowledge is the key to lowering the numbers of cats ending up in shelters. “Education is so important especially before a shelter takes in an unwanted feline as well as before an adoption,” Parr said. “We give potential and new cat owners advice on how to deal with problems, should they arise, before deciding to give up on the cat and bring it to (or back to) a shelter.”

Contrary to how felines see themselves, cats are NOT perfect and there will be times when a behavior problem arises or your household cat population starts to become unbearable. Spaying/neutering is the first and most crucial step to avoiding many undesirable behaviors (most intact Tomcats mark their territory by spraying an unpleasant odor in locations all around your house which neutering almost always stops).

The most obvious reason to alter your pet is to prevent the birth of more kittens into the world already overpopulated with, sadly enough, “unwanted” cats most of which usually end up in an overflowing, under-funded and struggling animal shelter.

So why do cats end up in shelters? The reasons and excuses are numerous, and unfortunately the heartbreaking conclusion is almost always the same. Sometimes the most prevalent behavior problem can be solved with one or two simple modifications in your home. New advances in medicine can now prevent allergies in those previously affected by cat dander or fur. And, as far as moving is concerned, more and more landlords are allowing pets into apartment buildings and rental property, so actively looking for a place to live that allows you to bring along your furry friends is a simple solution.

Please don’t let your cat companion become another shelter statistic. A few adjustments and maneuvering on your part could make all the difference in the world and save at least one more pet from ending up homeless and hopeless.

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1 Comment on "10 Shocking Reasons Why Cats End Up At Shelters"


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Harvey Bevitz
Harvey Bevitz
1 year 4 months ago

We should put effort with our legislators to end kill shelters. When this is put into operation other means will be put into effect to cut down the population and caring for feral cats.

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